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Saturday, July 30, 2022

Space Station makes a 6-minute Charlestown overflight at 9:07 PM

Another shot to see the ISS
By Will Collette

space science tech GIF by European Space Agency - ESAThe International Space Station (ISS) has been in the news over the past week as Vladimir Putin makes it a political football in his war against Ukraine.

Russia says it will abandon the ISS in 2024, leaving the future of one of the few remaining examples of international cooperation and joint scientific exploration in doubt.

But still the ISS sails on and is a frequent visitor to Charlestown’s night-time sky. There have been several passes in the past week, but most were either short or on a cloudy night.

Tonight, the National Weather Service predicts tonight’s weather will be clear., perfect for a six-minute flight, which is close to the maximum time it takes for the ISS to silently transit the sky over Charlestown.

After dark at 9:07 PM, the ISS will appear for a 6-minute pass  at 10 degrees about the northwest horizon. It will arc up to 85 degrees almost directly above us as it heads south east where it will disappear at 19 degrees above the horizon around 9:13.

Celestial mechanics makes the ISS strictly follow these specifications.

6-7 minutes is the maximum time for an overflight. The station relies on reflected light from sunset (or sunrise) to make it visible to us on the ground and 6-7 minutes is roughly how long it takes for the ISS to go from one end of the sky to the other.

Here's the message I received from NASA this morning, courtesy of their "Spot The Station" e-mail listserve:

Time: Sat Jul 30 9:07 PM, Visible: 6 min, Max Height: 85°, Appears: 10° above NW, Disappears: 19° above SE 

Its passage overhead is smooth, quiet and, in its way, majestic. Comforting in a way to see that by working together, we can do good things. Anyway, you can form your own impressions.